"Tavs, he's been out for hours; poke him or something."
"Vinyl I am not poking our savior simply because you're impatient!"
*growl* "But I'm hungry...oh wait, come here girl! Get him!"
The warm, wet tongue of my faithful companion proceeded to attempt a forced entry into my mouth, causing me to bolt upright and sputter, trying to keep dog saliva from getting into my mouth.
"*BWLAGH* Bailey, get! Bad girl!" I shouted, wiping my forearm furiously over my mouth. After a few minutes of this I opened my eyes to see two familiar hooded figures in front of me, and I sighed in defeat. "I wasn't dreaming, was I?"
They both hesitated for a moment before the smaller one removed the hood, revealing a messy head of two-tone blue hair, a spiraled white horn, and white fur. I tried my best to keep from staring, but I'm not all that confident I wasn't.
"No," Vinyl stated solemnly, "you weren't."
Octavia pulled her hood down next, revealing a more subtle coloration of a solid black mane against gray fur, but her shining amethyst eyes stood out like glittering jewels. "We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused."
I reflexively brought my hand to my face, though I was still a bit in shock because of the fact there were two real-life aliens standing in front of me, and Bailey seemed oddly unconcerned. Still, it was clear by the condition I found them in that there was some sort of trouble involved, so I kept calm so that I could handle the issues with a clear head.
"So where are the two of you from, exactly?" I asked, addressing the elephant in the room.
"Equestria." the two of them answered plainly.
I stared, uncomprehendingly. "Where is 'Equestria' and how did you get here, exactly?"
Octavia looked about to answer before turning to her friend and smiling sheepishly. "Would you mind answering that Vinyl? You always explain these things so much better."
Vinyl nodded before turning her ruby gaze back to me. "Alright, so here's what's up: we're not from your dimension -- we're actually from an entirely different reality with different rules."
"Figured that, what with the whole pony-thing going on." I snarked.
Vinyl glared at me for a moment before continuing. "Anyway, how much do you understand about how the universe works?"
I shrugged. "I know that gravity controls pretty much everything; matter from nebulae is pulled together by gravity to create stars, planets, and planetary systems. In the same way, those systems group together to become galaxies, and galaxies group together to become galactic clusters."
Vinyl nodded understandingly. "Good, and what happens when galaxies collide?"
I shrugged again. "They merge into one larger galaxy, more often than not."
"Yes," Vinyl agreed, "that's pretty much the gist of it. What your kind doesn't seem to know is that there are also multiple separate realities floating around in a sort of meta-cloud, and even though they aren't ruled by gravity in the same way, collisions do happen, exceedingly rare though they are."
Realizing where she was going with this I queried, "Wait, so our dimensions are merging?"
Vinyl nodded with a somber expression. "Yeah, and that's how we got here. When our two bubbles of reality collided, so did the parallels; Equestria is a mirror for your world, and a bunch of the people that live on them got swapped in the process." She then sighed as her expression fell. "But what bad thing can happen during galactic merging?"
I thought about what I knew from my astronomy hobby and replied, "Well, each galaxy is full of trillions of stars and planets, but not all of them will...survive...oh."
Vinyl nodded with a sorrowful sigh. "Not everyone's going to survive this process, Alex. Beyond the shock to the body the transition would cause, a lot of those that are affected could end up in space where there's no air, or miles below the surface of the sea, or even buried under a million tons of rock and soil. While our worlds are relative mirrors to each other as far as cosmic location within our respective realities, there are enough variables that casualties are going to be high for both sides."
I nodded slowly, my mouth hanging open in shock as I struggled to process what I had just heard. "So..."
"Even for those that are lucky or strong enough to survive being forcibly relocated to a different reality," she began, keeping her eyes focused on me to visually pass on just how serious this was, "our worlds are very different places and present very different dangers, I imagine. From what I can tell, your world doesn't have any magic in it, but neither does it have dragons and things."
Coming out of my shock fro the mention of fire-breathing beings of doom I squeaked, "D-d-dragons? Equestria has dragons?"
Vinyl nodded helplessly. "Yeah, and in addition to them being a danger to any of your kind that might have survived the journey there, it's possible that some of them were transported here as well."
The thought of what would happen from not only millions of humans disappearing but from hundreds of thousands -- at least -- aliens suddenly appearing brought to mind a very disturbing thought.
"We have to get out of here." I stated, standing quickly and nearly knocking over the coffee table in front of me.
Vinyl and Octavia backed up in surprise and confusion, but allowed me to pass before the horn-less pony asked, "What are you talking about, Alex? What's happened?"
I gestured for them both to follow me as I made my way to my cellar. "Humans panic if the lights go off; how do you think my kind is going to react to a chunk of the world population disappearing, only to be replaced by magical, dangerous aliens?" I shook my head as I forced the door open, nearly jogging in the dark room and turning on the light. "We might not have magic, but we have enough hardware to make the Earth a burning cinder if we have to, and something of this magnitude is just the thing to send our military into overdrive. It's a safe assumption that at least one important person in my country's governmental infrastructure has disappeared, and along with everything else we're quickly going to be ass-deep in a land of anarchy. We need to get away from other people and find somewhere safe and secure where we can wait this out, however long that takes." The thought of my friends being in a similar situation but left behind scared the hell out of me, but I shook the thought away; these two ponies were depending on me now, and seeing as how they had little to no idea how to survive in our world, it was my responsibility to ensure their safety.
Without another word I began the process of unlocking my "panic safe" which contained a few useful pieces of equipment we would need for this very situation. After typing in my ten-digit code I unlocked the five-foot safe and pulled it open, immediately grabbing the pre-packed bag of survival gear that included, among other things, a survival manual, multi-use survival shovel and hatchet, first aid kit and Swedish firestarter (thanks thoughtnerd.com!). I then grabbed the two empty hiking packs and tossed them to Vinyl and Octavia.
I pointed to the stairs and ordered, "Go upstairs and raid the kitchen. Anything non-perishable -- which includes canned food, pre-packaged food and sealed dry goods -- I want you to pack away. We're going to need the food on the drive, as it's going to take at least a few hours to get there, even taking the backroads."
Vinyl raised an eyebrow at me and asked, "Get where, exactly?"
"There's a cabin my family owns about four hours' drive north that's inaccessible by car and sits next to a river atop a cliff, so that'll be the safest place we'll be able to go right now." I explained to the both of them. "There's plenty of edible plants and animals there as well as clean water, so it'll sustain us for a long time if we need it to. Besides all that, only my close friends and family know how to get to it, so I'm fairly certain we'll not be bothered."
Both ponies looked unsure, but complied and ascended the stairs. I waited until I was sure they were gone before opening my bag and ensuring my set of self-defense blades were inside, then reached to the back of the safe and pulled out my locked weapon case. After rolling the spinners to the right combination I opened it, revealing my grip-customized G32 and two boxes of ammunition. I pulled out the holster and firearm and inserted the clip before securing the pistol to my thigh, then placed both boxes of bullets into the zipped front pocket of my heavy pack. I then grasped the pack, shutting the safe to lock it before heading for the stairs.
Upon entering the living room I set my pack down and headed to the kitchen, where Vinyl and Octavia were dutifully doing as I had asked while Bailey paced anxiously. I gently nudged Vinyl aside and entered my pantry, grabbing the three crates of bottled water and grunting as I lifted them. Upon reentering the living room I placed the water crates on the coffee table and sat down while I waited for my two guests to finish.
A few moments later they entered the living area with full packs, and I nodded with a smile. "Good. I have everything we should need in my pack, so we should get going as soon as possible; the longer we stay, the more dangerous things will become."
Octavia was staring at me for a few moments before suggesting, "Perhaps you should dress a little warmer, Alex. I assume it will get a bit drafty."
I looked down to see that I was still dressed in only a robe and underclothes, so I smiled sheepishly and turned toward my bedroom. "Right...I'll just be a few minutes then."
After ten minutes or so I found myself clean and clothed in something more fitting to travel in, with my hiking boots on and a warm coat as well. My pistol was once again strapped to my thigh and I left my bedroom -- for possibly the last time -- before making my way to the living room. The two ponies were waiting patiently there with my dog receiving an overload of love, so I silently approached and picked up my bag, motioning for them to do the same.
"Alright, we need to get going. Grab what we've got, and let's get on the road. Bailey, get your leash." I ordered, sending the three into motion as I retrieved the water and set toward the door. With a grunt and a heave, I lifted the crates and walked through the doorway (which Vinyl had been kind enough to open) before making my way to the garage.
Octavia and Vinyl stopped upon seeing my car, eyes widening as the shorter pony asked, "What the hay is that thing?"
"My car," I grunted, "but we're not taking this one." I set down the water on the hood of my small vehicle and sighed in relief before unlocking my garage and pulling the door open. I smirked when I saw the beauty that was waiting for me.
"What the hay is that thing? It looks like it could eat your other car!" Vinyl exclaimed when she caught sight of the much larger vehicle that waited.
I smirked and touched the remote, causing the car to chirp as the doors unlocked. "That, my dear, is an SUV, and it's what we'll need in case we come across any difficult terrain. The roads are snowy and can be rough where we're going, so my car would be too dangerous to drive. Alright," I began, pressing a button on the remote to open the hatch, "start packing everything in the back so we can get going."
The three of us quickly loaded the vehicle up before I unlocked the doors so we could get inside. Bailey bounded up and took her space in the front seat while the ponies sat in the back seat together. With a sigh I inserted my key and twisted, giving life to the vehicle and causing both ponies to jump in surprise. I chuckled before easing on the accelerator, taking us out of the driveway and onto the road.
"Alright, we're about to jump on the highway, and from there it should be smooth sailing, as no one really heads north this time of year." I stated, glad there weren't many people on the roads. "How are you two doing?"
"Sore and tired," Vinyl replied from just behind me, "but alright, all things considered."
I nodded to myself, turning onto the main road that led to the highway. "It'll be a long drive, so I would recommend getting some rest on the way. You body needs to heal after all, and there's not going to be much else to do in the meantime.
"What about your friends and family?" Octavia asked after a few minutes of silence.
I thought about the friends and family I had nearby. While it was true I wanted to reach out to them in an attempt to be sure they were okay, I knew it would be an unnecessary risk to both my safety and that of the two ponies in my care.
"As of now," I spoke with a heavy heart, "they're on their own. They know where I'll be going no doubt, so they'll no where to find me."
As I continued on the road I couldn't help but mentally add, "If they're still alive."